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Saturday November 6,2010

ROYAL Dutch Shell was among six companies fined a total of $237million (£146million) to end bribery investigations by the US Department of Justice and Securities & Exchange Commission.

Shell must pay a $30million “criminal penalty” over charges it paid $2million to a sub-contractor “with the knowledge that some or all of the money” would be used to bribe Nigerian officials to allow equipment into the country without paying duty. Shell, which has not admitted guilt, must pay a further $18million to repay profits and interests. Other companies fined include the offshore drilling contractor Transocean, involved in BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

All punished were customers of Swiss-based freight group Panalpina, which admitted paying $27million in bribes to officials in seven countries, including Angola, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Russia. It was fined nearly $71million. Shell said it had disciplined or sacked the staff involved and improved its internal controls. It co-operated with the DoJ investigation. Shell has sold $450million worth of stakes in Gulf of Mexico oil fields because they did not fit its strategy.

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